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Sometimes in sports, things are so obvious that it's borderline impossible to miss. If you follow baseball to any extent and you're not cashing a Shohei Ohtani MVP ticket today, you should feel shame. MLB will announce the winner of the MVP on Thursday and there's no suspense when it comes to who will win the honors in the American League.
Dubbed as the "modern day Babe Ruth," Ohtani hit .257 with 46 home runs and 100 RBIs. He posted a ,965 OPS. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that Ohtani threw over 130 innings this season, striking out 156 batters and posting a 3.18 ERA. He was amongst the league's best hitters and best pitchers. It doesn't get more valuable than that.
Sportsbooks taking the loss
Shohei Ohtani took the league by storm in April. By early May, there was strong feeling this was for real. By the end of May, we knew the only thing stopping Ohtani was injury.
The money came in early and it did not stop coming in. Ohtani was far and away the biggest liability for AL MVP at BetMGM. Eighty-seven percent of all money wagered on the award backed Ohtani bringing home the hardware.
Across the industry, it's expected sportsbooks will take a seven-figure loss on Ohtani winning MVP, including a bettor who is on track to win $900,000 off a $30,000 bet back in March. Usually, awards markets are not a major liability for sportsbooks as the action is booked so evenly with so many different players getting betting action.
One bettor wanted free money
Once it became obvious that Ohtani would win the award, oddsmakers adjusted. By the beginning of September, Ohtani was listed as a -5000 favorite to win the award. One would need to bet $5,000 in order to profit $100.
If you have the capital, why not take advantage of the free money? One bettor at BetMGM did just that.
The bettor placed a $204,149 bet on Ohtani to win the AL MVP in September at -5000 odds. If Ohtani wins the award as expected, the bettor will win $4,083. That's a 2% return on your investment for allowing the sportsbook to hold your money for two months. Then again, most people don't just have $205,000 laying around.
Odds movement history
When the AL MVP market opened, Ohtani was 40-to-1 to win the MVP. There was serious doubt about whether he could stay healthy, and if he did stay healthy, could he effectively both hit and pitch? There's a reason nobody else does it.
After an impressive spring training and preseason hype growing, Ohtani was 30-to-1 on Opening Day.
After a solid first month, Ohtani was 10-to-1 to win the award in early May. Then, the world realized this was actually happening and this is for real. By the beginning of June, Ohtani's odds were down to +115.
The last realistic chance to back Ohtani was prior to the all-star break, when Ohtani was -145 to win AL MVP. By August, Ohtani was a -500 favorite before closing as a -5000 favorite in September.